The World’s New Longest Flight Is Now Airborne!

Today is a pretty exciting day for aviation geeks. Just a bit ago the world’s new longest flight from Singapore to Newark took off.

This flight is operating with the flight number SQ22, and will cover a distance of 9,534 miles.

This flight is only made possible thanks to Singapore Airlines taking delivery of the A350-900ULR, an aircraft for which they’re the launch customer. SQ22 was scheduled to leave Singapore at 11:35PM and is scheduled to arrive at Newark Airport at 6AM on Friday morning, so the flight is blocked at 18hr25min. That’s quite a haul!

Ultimately this new route represents a resumption of the flight, as Singapore Airlines operated this flight until 2013, using Airbus A340-500 aircraft. The airline ended up getting rid of those planes, leaving them without an aircraft capable of operating the flight, which is why they’re finally restoring service now.

Not only is the A350-900ULR the longest range aircraft there is, but Singapore Airlines put it in an especially spacious configuration, with a total of just 161 seats, including 67 business class seats and 94 premium economy seats. This further reduces the weight of the aircraft and increases the range.

At 9,534 miles, this flight is just over 500 miles longer than the world’s current furthest route, operated by Qatar Airways between Doha and Auckland, which covers a distance of 9,032 miles. Then the third longest route is Qantas’ new flight between Perth and London, which covers a distance of 9,009 miles, and is the first regularly scheduled nonstop flight between Australia and Europe.

I’m looking forward to taking SQ22 later this month between Singapore and Newark, to see how the experience is. I’m not a huge fan of Singapore Airlines’ business class seats, as I find them to be especially hard, and nearly 19 hours is a long time to spend in those seats.

To follow along with the world’s new longest flight, check out this Flightradar24 link. It looks like the flight time tonight is scheduled for “only” 17hr33min. 😉

If you want to fly Singapores A350-900ULR but don’t want to fly to Newark, the airline will also start flying that plane to Los Angeles as of November 2, 2018, and to San Francisco as of December 7, 2018 (though that complements the nonstop flights that the airline already operates between Singapore and San Francisco using a “standard” A350-900). Those are probably the only three destinations to which they’ll fly the planes, given that they only have seven on order.

Lastly, if you want to redeem miles on any of these flights, Singapore KrisFlyer has been pretty good about making award seats available.

Comments

  1. I thought this flight was going the other way… over the Pacific; like JFK-PEK does. Basically this is the first flight from North America to a truly east Asian destination which goes over the Atlantic?

    People talk about the financial center of Asia moving to Singapore from Tokyo and Hong Kong. One of the biggest challenges is northern hemisphere air travel there… so they need this to work.

  2. The most painful part of this inaugural flight is being in the same cabin as Zach Honig for 17 hours.

  3. @DaKine – it’s not going over the Atlantic. While the map doesn’t represent the route like a globe would, the flight path is mostly due north/south over the North Pole. SIN and EWR are approx 180 degrees longitude apart which makes this possible.

  4. @DaKine – no, it goes up over the pole and then down over Russia and China. So it’s really just over the Arctic Sea

  5. @DaKine – the filed flight plan has it taking advantage of favorable winds and heading over the Pacific today, yes. That may not be the case everyday though. The GCM track is nearly directly north, over the pole, and then nearly due south to EWR, however as evidenced today, that may not always be the fastest route due to winds. I believe the old SQ 21 (EWR->SIN) regularly flew both east and north routes back to SIN depending on the winds. Depending on payload, cargo, winds etc it may take a northerly route or easterly route on any given day. Prevailing winds in the northern hemisphere go from west to east, and are stronger in the winter, so the East route on both SQ22 and SQ21 are probably the most likely routes for the next few months. This route is the closest ‘antipode’ route flying today, so they have the luxury of always flying east if needed.

  6. I’m not involved in the economics of air travel, but it surprises me that more carriers don’t go with this approach. More business, more first, less cattle class, lighter weight, less fuel burn from less climbing to altitude, and longer flights. Less cycles means less wear and tear on the air frame, more up time, less turn around time…seems like it would be a more profitable way to operate. OR, maybe that doesn’t make any sense at all and is why Southwest makes lots of American Dollars short-hopping people in cattle class all across the continent. 🙂

  7. @Bryan – it all depends on the type of yields on a route. A lot of airlines actually do go with a high premium, low density layout with high frequencies, BA does it on their 747’s between LHR and JFK, AA on their transcon A321t’s, KE’s A380s between ICN and the US etc. BA even has an all business A318 that flies daily between LCY and JFK. But if a route doesn’t support high yields, then packing em in cattle class is the way to go. Which is why you see SW flying between places like ISP and BWI, and not JFK and LAX. Different markets to make money in, requiring different strategies and equipment.

  8. @WilliamC Zach Honig? Try Sam Chui and his “I’m a very important influencer and I will get airport & airline workers say lines they’d probably rather not say but will say for my video because I’m an influencer” persona. Imagine being stuck with him for 18 hours?

    Also, weren’t we supposed to see new seats for the ULR? Or is that only for Premium Economy?

  9. I still have no idea why SQ didn’t install an onboard bar or lounge for this flight. 18 hours is a long time!

  10. I find it fascinating that there is no Economy seating!

    Also Lucky, why have their only been three Airline reviews in the last month? Seems that the quantity is dropping an 2 of those three were intra Europe !

  11. If Lucky’s dick level is 1, Zach Honig is probably 5 and Sam Chui is probably between 20 and 50.
    Seriously, his video of shooting cabin crews is just cringeworthy and gross.

  12. Even in First Class I don’t think I would want to be on a plane for 18.5 hours straight no matter how great the service is and how comfortable the seat is. Being stuck in a metal tube that long takes it’s toll on your body and mind.

  13. @Leeza1
    I think you have a point there. I honestly hadn’t thought about a tired restless person heading over to the bar after 10hrs in the air, getting drunk, wanting food, trying to start a fight with the bar stool or worse a door…….

    Indeed Lucky’s map is very wrong for today’s flight as it is not even taking the great circle route but indeed much lower. That’s more of the EWR-SIN routing.
    Tonight is ofcourse over Japan – (maybe) Alaska – Canada – EWR.

    I wish i were on that flight. It’s more of a huge event that a regular flight.

  14. Richard Quest from CNN is on this flight and is posting live updates each hour at cnn.com I’m scheduled for this flight in april, but keep hoping an F seat clears for JFK-SIN. Still maybe its worth it to fly J just to have the experience on this route.

  15. “If Lucky’s dick level is 1, Zach Honig is probably 5 and Sam Chui is probably between 20 and 50.”

    Don’t sell Zach short. He’s at least a 10.

  16. I flew LAX-SIN R/T on SQ in business when they first operated it. As much as I love to fly, 18+ hours was too much at once, even in business. I was stir crazy. I just wanted to get off the plane. In my opinion, as an airline geek, 10-12 hours is a sweet spot (in premium cabins). There’s enough time to enjoy the service, take a nap, take a nap and watch a some TV/movies – a little bit of everything….then off to the next adventure!

  17. For those of you interested in, and understanding the precise route of this flight, and similar ones, I strongly recommend you invest in a fun old-school globe of the earth! It will suddenly make sense of it all. Those of you more inclined to the flat earth theory can continue to view things as normal.

  18. “If Lucky’s dick level is 1 (2 sometimes) , Zach Honig is probably 5 (he can go up to a 10ish) and Sam Chui is probably between 20 and 50” +

    Sam Chui is sooooo annoying that I cannot watch his videos or read his reviews (he is probably a nice decent person in real life) but on camera just wow, a wannabe ughh awful. All these bloggers trying to act like superstars. Vomit! At least Ben makes it about the product and not himself!

    As for the SQ22 routings 🙂

    No flights go over the North Pole region period, since NO ONE is allowed to cross that close to the Hyperborea lands…not even a sniffy sniff. Even in the “region” ALWAYS cloud cover, ALWAYS

    That’s all 😉

  19. Leeza

    It is fairly well known that long-haul cabon crew like the pax to have a few drinks for a very good reason. It means those pax will probably fall asleep and therefore not require any work for several hours.

  20. The reason most of us are drawn to Lucky’s reviews seem to me because of the fact that he is not trying to market himself.

  21. @Mike “10-12 hours is a sweet spot (in premium cabins)”.

    Couldn’t agree with you more! Absolutely spot on. Although I must say, I’ve managed to do SIN-LHR four times at just over 14 hours and it’s still OK, for me. But honestly, the prospect of 18 hours or more is just too much to stomach. Not even in first class.

  22. I’d much rather Zach to the Points Guy himself, now he is truly unbearable. I do like JT Genter on TPG though, shame the poor guy gets stuck doing economy reviews all the time.

    When I first started following airline bloggers, I watched a few videos from Sam Chui but never took to his reviews.

  23. No way would I consider this.

    I ALWAYS pay cash for all my FIRST CLASS tickets and will not consider a route that only offers business class (yuck!!).

    I bet all these filthy, poor commoners that fly this plane leave a stench of poverty behind in the cabin.

    I’m rich, rich, rich, don’t you know?

  24. Early reports coming in are saying the Premium Economy window seats are solo seats, so direct aisle access. Which is pretty cool.

  25. @JDS – yes, the seat map for this flight has been uploaded to SeatGuru. The last three PE seats on each side are solo.

  26. I find it hard to understand why they would use these planes to fly to west coast cities they already fly to rather than opening up Singapore to Miami or Toronto… Miami would be an awesome connection.

  27. When some say 18h flight EWR-SIN is too long then I don’t understand how to get there any faster – the connections all take several hours longer. And the only thing worse than such a long flight is having to make a connection after a long flight – in NRT or heaven forbid LAX.

    My #1 concern is that now the JFK-FRA SQ25/26 flights will be downgraded from the A380 to B777 or outright gutted. I have been on this flight for 25 years because of its perfect timing and because I don’t like LH J.

  28. @Don IIRC back then when SQ offered nonstop SIN EWR using A340-500 didn’t SIN FRA JFK uses B747 and upgraded after A380 has arrived?

  29. @John – they did but they also suspended the SIN-EWR route because of lack of demand, some of which may have been cannibalized by their own A380 SIN-FRA-JFK.

    My gut feeling tells me that 1) SQ does not want to cancel the direct route again and 2) the next recession will hit Europe much, much harder than the US in comparison to recessions before.

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